What’s a Graze?
With so many news stories, problems, and solutions coming about during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have collected some of the most important resources farmers and their allies can know about right now. No bull, just the meat.
Farmfront Board Director
I can’t sell my livestock or produce for anything. What gives?
The difficulty dealing with COVID-19 is that we still are learning about it. We do know issues like the proximately required at meat processing facilities is an issue. But still the overall uncertainty has caused massive issues in our food supply system. Food producers (aka farmers) have become one of the most economically vulnerable parts that system. Information changes quickly right now so expect a dynamic year.
How exactly is that affecting where I live?
States differ in how they are treating their economies. Some are more restrictive than others. Generally, all food production is considered an essential service. Farms for food production should be considering their options for moving forward.
Why can’t I sell my livestock or vegetables to whoever is processing them?
Part of our food system’s fragility is in how plants process and inspect food. Food must be processed and inspected before it goes to consumers. The processes themselves such as for meat have high standards. It isn’t a health issue. The standards do make it difficult to transport meat across state lines. It can also be hard to find a facility with the right inspection infrastructure the USDA needs. This is a partial reason for why there are so few stakeholders in meat processing. It is hardly the only reason though. Meat is a prominent example.
Some farms can use this opportunity to pivot.
- Find a processor. Processors can be USDA-inspected. There are also boutique processors. It is important to vet these for yourself before you use their services.
- It may be time to go directly to the consumer. Figure out if your business can or should ship online. Also, consider other new business factors if you decide it is time to go direct-to-consumer.
- There are many businesses ready to help make those new decisions. These include but are not limited to Barn2Door, LocalHarvest, EatWild, Farmigo, Local Food Marketplace, Harvie, and Graze Cart*.
* None of these are affiliate links, nor does Farmfront have any endorsement relationship with them. We encourage farmers and farm businesses to connect with colleagues your area to see what they like.
Other farms have to batten down the hatches.
- The USDA has created a matrix breaking down all federal programs for farmers.
- The Farmer’s Legal Action Group is keeping an updated list of resources for accessing legal services during this time. This includes programs passed as part of the CARES Act that became law on March 27.
- Growing Farmers has created a guide with more information about the CARES act’s SBA programs. The guides focuses on what is available to farms and food businesses
Is there anything long-term to come out of this?
Some bills are trying to make meat processing more agile under thePRIME act.
In the meantime, one of the most important things you can do as a business owner is take care of yourself.
Folks like Farm Aid are ready to give you fast and effective help. Mental health is health. Seeking help for your mental health is smart.